Victory in Manassas! Although the final battle reports have yet to come in, nearly all accounts indicate a Union victory in yesterday’s battle between the Federal army and the forces of Virginia near Bull Run. This battle, by far the largest and most important yet fought in this war, was fought bravely by men on both sides. Although it has not been the resounding, absolute victory hoped for by many Northern leaders, it will surely prove to be a pivotal moment in the Union march towards Richmond.
The battle began early in the morning as a Union force led by Brigadier General Irvin McDowell took command of artillery stationed near Bull Run, forcing the Confederate forces to retreat towards their main encampment at Manassas. Union troops pursued them to the junction, where they fought the remainder of the battle. Details of the battle are difficult to come by and unreliable, but it appears as though a group McDowell’s forces moved to the southwest during the night to effect an attack upon the Confederate left flank, while artillery and other forces moved south towards Stone Bridge for a direct attack on Manassas from the north. Although the fighting was fierce and the casualties appear to be many on both sides, the attack allowed Union forces to partially encircle the Confederate forces, forcing them to slowly retreat to their encampment at Manassas. By late afternoon, the fighting had ceased due to a speedy retreat by Southern troops.
In spite of this apparent victory, it appears as though the significant Union losses and fatigue from the lengthy battle has prevented McDowell from pursuing General Beauregard’s retreating troops. Although this may prolong the eastern Virginia campaign, it should also provide ample opportunity for the Union forces to regroup and develop a strategy for the upcoming assault on the Confederate capital in Richmond.
The Northern press and public has received news of the Union victory enthusiastically. They are full of praise for the bold and courageous conduct of our nation’s fighting men and for the ingenuity of McDowell, whose strategy and military knowledge played an invaluable role in yesterday’s victory. News has also no doubt reached the President, and although we have not yet heard word of his and his cabinet’s reaction, they will surely be pleased by the result. The battle is also sure to be the subject of great discussion in Congress, as many Congressmen were personally present in the vicinity of Manassas to observe the battle and survey the condition of the troops.
Although the battle at Manassas occupied the bulk of the nation’s attention, it was not the only important occurrence within the state of Virginia this weekend. Only a few miles south in Richmond, the Confederate Congress convened for the first time at their new capital. Although their meeting was shortened due to the battle taking place just to the north, there was sufficient time for a speech by President Jefferson Davis, who firmly denounced the warlike actions of the North and pledged to resist them by raising thousands of additional troops to defend the Southern lands threatened by Northern subjugation. Amid his criticism of the Union, Davis reasserted the independence of the Southern Confederacy and its citizens and noted that by its recent actions, the Union has done so as well:
These enormous preparations in men and money, for the conduct of a war on a scale more gigantic than any which the new would has ever witnessed, is a distinct avowal, in the eyes of civilized man, that the United States are engaged in a conflict with a great and powerful nation; they are at last compelled to abandon the presence of being engaged in dispersing rioters and suppressing insurrections, and are driven to the acknowledgment that the ancient Union has been dissolved. They recognize the separate existence of these Confederate States by the interdiction, embargo, and blockade of all commerce between them and the United States, not only by sea, but by land; not only in ships, but in rail-cars; not only with those who bear arms, but with the entire population of the Confederate States. Finally, they have repudiated the foolish consent that the inhabitants of this Confederacy are still citizens of the United States; for they are waging an indiscriminate war upon them all, with a savage ferocity unknown to modern civilization.
In the News:
- The Philadelphia Inquirer has a two part summary of the battle.
- The New York Times declares the battle “the greatest battle ever fought on this continent.”
- The Richmond Daily Dispatch disagrees, declaring a Confederate victory at Manassas.
- The Quincy Daily Whig & Republican publishes conflicting reports: One describes a great Union victory at Manassas, while another depicts chaos and a disorganized retreat to Washington.
- The Philadelphia Press declares the Union “probably victorious.”
- The Philadelphia Inquirer jubilantly celebrates the Union victory in Virginia.
- The New York Times also lauds the Union performance at Manassas, declaring it “a lesson [the rebellion] will not soon forget.”
- The Richmond Daily Dispatch provides a response to President Davis’ recent address.
- The Philadelphia Inquirer examines one of the greatest tasks facing the nation: the creation of a strong Navy.
- The New Englander examines Southern arguments in favor of secession.
- July’s DeBow’s Review speculates as to the future of the Southern Confederacy.
- The Southern Literary Messenger has published “A Lecture not on the Devil, but Whiskers.”